Thursday, October 08, 2009

Laziness and Greed Trump Safety in Calgary Parking Lots

I have been absent from writing this page for a long time...criminal law is booming in the recession I guess. But even as I prepare to pick a jury for a murder trial tomorrow, and feverishly work to complete a factum for the Court of Appeal, I simply cannot resist commenting on this headline:

"Drivers Ticketed for Parking in Wrong Direction"

At first I thought, people parking on the opposite side of a they parked illegally and got a is this a news story?

When I realized that the City cash grab otherwise known as the Park Plus system in the now "pay and ride" lots for Calgary Transit was the source of this, I just had to chime in.

When I took a special driver safety course at age 16 (so that I could get more affordable insurance on my used Ford Tempo), it was a specific recommendation to back into parking stalls instead of driving in forward because of a significant safety benefit.

When you use "reverse parking" you actually drive past the stall and you can visually see any potential hazard before you start backing up. Then, you back into an area that is "static"...nothing is driving in or out (subject to pedestrians that you must always be watching for). When you go to leave the stall and enter back into the "dynamic" lane of travel, you are looking forward, not over your shoulder or through mirrors and the likelihood of you causing an accident drops significantly.

But don't take my word for it:

The U.K. Health and Safety Executive:

Wherever possible, parking areas should be designed so that only simple manoeuvres are needed for vehicles to park and leave. Always try to avoid the need for reversing[2], and also think about how articulated and other large vehicles will be able to use the space safely.

If a driver needs to move the load area of their vehicle close to a structure, reversing will often be unavoidable. However, parking areas can often be arranged in drive-through patterns. If you can't have drive-through parking, arrangements should encourage reverse parking that: reduces the number of vehicles reversing out into a flow of traffic; improves visibility for departing vehicles.

Arranging parking bays at an angle backwards to the flow of traffic
is a good way of encouraging reverse parking.

The Alberta Government Driver's Handbook:

Other hints for backing:
• If you have to back out of a driveway, back your vehicle into the nearest traffic lane and then go forward. Do not back into a second traffic lane.
Note: It is usually safer to back into the driveway so that you can drive forward when you leave.

The City of Salt Lake City Utah has imposed reverse parking (citing Seattle Washington and Tuscon Arizona doing same and significantly reducing parking-related accidents) stating that, "It boils down to safety and when you want to have your convenience..."

And the list can simply go on and on...

Unlike Salt Lake City, I guess in Calgary it boils down to money and when city council wants convenience is at the point of separating its citizens from their money.

I mean face it. The people in the story who were ticketed with $40.00 citations actually paid for the parking service and their only fault was making it slightly more difficult for the City to check that they had paid. And really, the City's response simply is, we want to use our little camera cars and not have the driver to get out to look at a license plate so we don't care if it's safer to back into the stall, we pick efficient money collection over safety.

But do they ticket the car that is facing the wrong way?...

Uhh, they must use a different camera right? One that reaches up over the car to get the plate wait, if they had that then it wouldn't matter if the car was parked the more safe way.

Uhh, so the parking dude rolls down his window (I sure hope he doesn't have to crank it by hand) and then shoots some kind of special ticket dart at the car...all from the comfortable groove of the driver's seat right? wait, that still doesn't get him a look at the plate.

Could it be that the driver gets out, walks to the car, and enters the fully parking fee paid plate number into his little computer? And for causing such inconvenience (never mind the safer parking job) the diligent citizen gets to pay $43 to park because he or she chooses the safer parking method?

You've got to be kidding.

Anyway, I guess I don't need to worry about it...I reverse park in a downtown core parking lot...where such practice is allowed.

I'd re-think this one City...